Michigan governor policing possible treatment for coronavirus

Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, both similar antimalarial drugs, are currently being touted as a possible treatment for coronavirus until a specific anti-viral can be produced.

In Michigan, however, Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer made the insane decision to prohibit doctors from prescribing the potentially life-saving treatment to prevent shortages of the medication. 

Promising treatment

A study conducted by a group of French infectious disease experts and published in March found that about two dozen non-randomized patients diagnosed with COVID-19 carried less virus at the end of the treatment that those that did not receive the treatment.

According to the study, six asymptomatic patients, 22 upper respiratory tract infection patients, and eight with lower respiratory tract infections were included in the trial. Of those, 20 of them were treated and showed “a significant reduction of the viral carriage at D6-post inclusion compared to controls, and much lower average carrying duration than reported of untreated patients in the literature.”

The conclusion of the study stated, “Despite its small sample size our survey shows that hydroxychloroquine treatment is significantly associated with viral load reduction/disappearance in COVID-19 patients and its effect is reinforced by azithromycin.”

Since the publishing of that study, many nations have jumped aboard the chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine bandwagon. However, the FDA has not approved the drug for use against coronavirus specifically, leading some to believe that it is not safe to use at all.

Not So Fast

Governor Whitmer, in her race to make her mark during the crisis, pushed back against the trend towards using the drugs, citing a concern that allowing doctors to prescribe the medication could lead to a shortage.

Whitmer’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs issued a directive to the state’s doctors and pharmacists warning them that:

Prescribing hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine without further proof of efficacy for treating COVID-19 or with the intent to stockpile the drug may create a shortage for patients with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or other ailments for which chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are proven treatments. Reports of this conduct will be evaluated and may be further investigated for administrative action.

The letter directed pharmacists to block doctors from prescribing the medication as well. “A pharmacist shall not fill a prescription if the pharmacist believes the prescription will be used for other than legitimate medical purposes or if the prescription could cause harm to a patient,” the letter read.

The letter also instructed pharmacists receiving prescriptions to demand proof that the drugs are being prescribed for approved conditions as well as asking other doctors to report any doctor they know prescribing these drugs to treat coronavirus.

Whitmer is doing this as two of two university health care facilities in the state have already started to use these drugs with some success. Additionally, according to the CDC website, “in the United States, several clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis or treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection are planned or will be enrolling soon.”

Whitmer’s authoritarian decision to deny a potentially game-changing coronavirus treatment simply due to the fact that it’s experimental is anti-science and incredibly reckless. Chloroquine has been approved for use as an anti-malarial for decades and has been approved for off-label “compassionate use” at the prescribing doctor’s discretion.

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